Gas prices are impacting the public transport industry
Gasoline prices are breaking records almost daily and this is weighing on other industries. Public transport is one of the sectors affected.
San Luis Obispo Regional Transit Authority (SLO RTA) officials say they are already overspending the gas budget they had planned for this year.
“I don’t think anyone expected gas prices to be where they are right now,” said Omar McPherson, chief operating officer for SLO RTA.
To offset rising gas prices, RTA says they are turning to leftover funds from other areas to offset the gas overbudget.
SLO RTA claims that the increase in gasoline prices has led to an increase in the number of people using public transport.
“27% increase in ridership over last year,” McPherson said.
“It’s definitely a deal. It’s less than three dollars for a ride from SLO to Atascadero, pretty sure it’s more than that to drive,” said Atascadero resident Kathy Lachaine.
These types of buses are powered by diesel and on Friday alone, diesel hit a record high of $5.53 from just a week ago, or $5.26 per gallon according to Triple-A.
“The cost of fuel has gone up tremendously, as you know, but as public transit we’re not paying the same price as the general public because we’re buying more in bulk,” McPherson said.
SLO RTA officials say it would not be the first time they have seen an increase in the number of people switching to public transport.
“If we look back in history, the last time was in 2012 or 2013 when the price of gas went above $4.50, we saw a huge increase in the number of passengers from a year-over-year from 2013-2015-2016,” McPherson said.
The difference now is that there are other challenges for transit companies, including COVID-19 and driver shortages.
RTA says riding fares haven’t increased since 2017 and so far they don’t see gas prices affecting the rider.